AGRICULTURE: by Peter McHughNews Weekly
Animal cruelty in Indonesia: was it a set-up?
, June 8, 2013
Peter McHugh is chief executive of Causeway Produce Agency, a company which supplies quality grain and feed supplements to the cattle industry in Townsville, North Queensland. This article appeared in the Townsville Daily Bulletin in response to a lengthy letter which appeared previously in the newspaper from Jenny Brown, headed, “Live export is a costly mistake”.
In reply to Jenny Brown’s article, “Live export is a costly mistake”, Jenny’s concerns over the cruelty overseas on our live exported animals is understandable and could be commended on face value of the footage and information aired.
There is other information and footage in the public domain, however, that I feel everyone should be aware of, which may throw a different dimension on the issues.
The 2010 edition of the AMIEU [Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union] Queensland branch Meatworker reports on an “unlikely alliance”, which few people are aware of. It was formed in 2010 (the year before the appearance of the famous footage of animal cruelty on the ABC Four Corners’ documentary, “Bloody business”. It apparently involved major meetings allegedly held with JBS, Teys, Nippon Meat, Fletcher International, the Meatworkers Union and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, with a view to co-ordinating a united campaign on the issue of live export closure.
Apparently, this “unlikely alliance” held meetings with Queensland’s then-premier Anna Bligh and the then federal Minister for Agriculture Tony Burke, and held a public forum at the NSW parliament on the live export issue. The public forum was hosted by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, armed with a copy of the SG Heilbron 2010 report on the effect of live cattle exports on the Queensland meat-processing industry, commissioned by Swift, Teys and Nippon Meat, and a report from ACIL Tasman on the economic analysis of the Australian live-sheep and sheep-meat trade prepared for the WSPA [World Society for the Protection of Animals] in September 2009.
Brian Crawford points out, in his union newsletter, the considerable amount that the union provided to the Labor Party.
Perhaps there should at some stage be an investigation into the actions of this “unlikely alliance” and to what lengths and means it went in order to achieve its aim to eliminate live exports.
There is footage available showing Tim McGuire (an employee of Teys Bros and an AMIC representative) and Grant Courtney from the AMIEU with Lyn White from Animals Australia on the same platform, being interviewed after the announcement by the federal government in 2011 of the live export ban to Indonesia.
Footage on the May 2011 Four Corners documentary, “Bloody business”, shows an interview with one of the authors of the joint report by LiveCorp and MLA [Meat and Livestock Australia] into slaughtering of Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs, which included lists of every inhumane practice that appeared in the Four Corners program.
The joint LiveCorp and MLA report appears to have been used by Animals Australia as a template for its Four Corners program, and the publication of the report by LiveCorp and MLA in May 2010 suggests that some people at LiveCorp and MLA must have been aware of the inhumane slaughter practices that were occurring in Indonesia well before the “Bloody business” program went to air.
The question that needs to be asked is to what lengths and means this “unlikely alliance” went to further its attempt to eliminate live cattle export.
The true facts speak for themselves. The JBS Townsville plant sacked 260 staff in February 2010 after an unseasonal January start lasting four weeks. One may speculate that these sackings may have inspired the union action which was required to enable the “unlikely alliance” to involve the Queensland government.
The question also arises as to how many of those workers sacked have now been replaced by 457 visa immigrants? Does this mean that no Australian jobs are in jeopardy from live cattle exports today?
Jenny Brown (Townsville Daily Bulletin, May 15, 2013) discusses financial modelling, suggesting how well-off Australian graziers would be with no live exports.
Many cattle-graziers in Australia will find this calculation hard to swallow. There are many who believe that the “unlikely alliance’s” success in reducing live cattle exports has contributed to one of the worst cattle price crashes in living memory, and the hardship will be felt for decades.
There is an oversupply of cattle at the moment due to drought, insufficient processing plants and the major reduction in live export quotas. I can assure you there is not an oversupply of meat worldwide or domestically.
We should all be aware that throughout this time, the actions of the WSPA [World Society for the Protection of Animals] on live exports and those who assisted them may have contributed to high numbers of cattle dying from thirst and starvation or needing to be shot during the current drought.
Jenny Brown did not seem to show any concern for these cattle or, for that matter, for the human toll.